JOZY ALTIDORE hopes Steven Fletcher’s injury problems are behind him so the pair can fine-tune their strike partnership.
Summer signing Altidore started alongside Fletcher for only the second time in Sunday’s Wear-Tyne derby as new head coach Gus Poyet turned to an orthodox 4-4-2 to end Sunderland’s run of six successive Premier League defeats.
Both frontmen played their part in victory over the Magpies, with Fletcher netting his second of the season and then Altidore teeing up substitute Fabio Borini for the winner.
And Altidore hopes that is a sign of things to come now that Fletcher is fit again after the Scottish international missed the start of the campaign with an ankle injury and was then ruled out for three games with a dislocated shoulder.
Altidore told the Echo: “It has been difficult for him because he has been out injured a lot and he was only training a little bit until recently.
“But it has been great to have him out training again and when he is on the field in match situations it gives everybody else room to operate and be more dangerous.
“We have worked on set-pieces quite a bit so it was nice to see one work out with Fletch scoring.
“We just need to get him healthy and keep him that way.”
Poyet is likely to persist with Altidore and Fletcher together for Saturday’s trip to Hull City, who travel to Spurs tonight in the last 16 of the Capital One Cup.
But a third Sunderland striker, Borini, is also pushing for a starting spot following his spectacular derby winner after being introduced on the left flank from the bench.
Altidore said: “It was huge for him because he has played all around the field. He is a really great guy.
“It was a really great goal. I laid it off and then he came inside and hit a really terrific strike.
“It shows that we have an understanding and that’s what you try to develop.”
Altidore will be in familiar surroundings at the KC Stadium after spending the 2009-10 campaign on loan at Hull - a season which culminated in the Tigers being relegated from the Premier League.
The American international experienced two different managers and two different chairmen after the then teenager joined on a season-long stint from Spanish side Villarreal.
But the 23-year-old is determined to enjoy a successful return this weekend, with Sunderland still second bottom in the table; four points adrift of safety.
“It’s a winnable game and we have to make sure we go there and show the same effort as we did on Sunday,” added Altidore.
“It’s huge. It’s important now to kick-on and keep going – not just be satisfied.
“I was quite young when I was at Hull.
“It was a bit of a circus at the time, I’m not going to lie. But the fans were good and that’s the most important thing at any club. They deserved better.”